best tips for enjoying holiday meals without gaining weight

10 Holiday Eating Tips: Enjoy Meals Without Gaining Weight

(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)

Are you going to be doing some serious holiday eating? These 10 holiday tips to enjoy special meals without gaining weight are not rocket science, my friends. No revelations, here.

There is a bit of a secret, though, to finding success during this time of year when binge eating is…well, almost acceptable. I’ll tell you what it is.

You need to commit to following ALL of these simple actions, EACH TIME  you are going to a holiday function. It doesn’t matter if it’s cocktails after work, a family gathering or Christmas dinner. If you are serious about getting through this feeding frenzy we call the holidays without finding your clothes fitting tighter, it will require some effort on your part.

Even if the result is just a pound or two and you think, “Whew! That’s not so bad, I’ll lose that weight quickly”, guest what? Most of us don’t follow through, and those small weight gain increments follow us year after year, until we’ve gained a more substantial amount of weight. Sigh.

To add insult to injury, once we reach midlife the pounds seem to appear without provocation, even when we’re working so hard to maintain our weight. For women over 50, we need to ‘gird our loins’ when it comes to holiday eating and commit to ourselves that we’re going to have a wonderful season without losing control of our eating habits.

2020 Update: Well, this year is certainly not the norm when it comes to holiday gatherings. We are foregoing many, if not most, of the parties, and our special times are with smaller groups, or perhaps even by ourselves.

My Thanksgiving dinner will be with me, myself, and I this year, even though family is near by. We’re all staying home and gathering within our family units, whatever that number may be.

But you know what? I am still going to follow these 10 holiday eating tips as I go through my day, preparing my festive meal and then enjoying it.

No matter how large or small your gathering is, my friend, make wise choices!

These simple tips to avoid weight gain will work for you at any time of the year, not just for holiday eating. How about wedding receptions, graduation parties, social functions…you don’t have to save your smart eating habits for the month of December. πŸ™‚

10 holiday eating tips to avoid
gaining weight

holiday eating tips: enjoy holiday gatherings and avoid gaining weight with these tips

1 | Don’t starve yourself that day

Even though it may seem to make sense at the time. You’re thinking that if you save up the calories throughout the day, you can eat whatever you want at the holiday shindig and your body will be none the wiser.

Unfortunately, you’re setting yourself up to overeat at the special meal because you’re probably starving. You may end up consuming twice as many calories (and fat, carbs, sodium, etc) as you would if you had not been so ravenous.

2 | Eat a healthy snack before the party

Something small but healthy is all you need. A handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, a small salad.

It will help you feel fuller (naturally!) and you will be able to make better eating decisions at the gathering.

3 | Drink water before the meal

Have a glass of water before going to the holiday affair, and consider starting out with water when you get there.

You’ll feel fuller and like the tip above, you won’t be as likely to overeat.

4 | Tour the food table(s) before putting any food on your plate

Having a plan is so important when eating out during the holidays. Do a ‘walkabout’ of the food…appetizers, main course, dessert…before you eat one thing.

Decide in advance what you’re going to eat, pick your poison so to speak and then stick with it.

5 | Commit to avoiding mindless eating

When we’re at holiday gatherings we tend to snack while we eat.

It’s easy to do, with food everywhere tempting us to have ‘just a bite’. Well, you know what happens! Just a bite here, just a bite there…talk and chat some more…another bite here and there…and before you know it you’ve consumed enough bites for a meal. And you haven’t had the meal yet.

So tell yourself, in advance, that you are not going to do that. You’ll put food on your dinner plate one time, and that is all.

How to enjoy holiday meals without gaining weight infographic

6 | Beware the sneaky appetizer table

The appetizers look SO good. Tasty, inviting, and there is such a variety! What would it hurt to have just a bite? Hint: read the paragraph above πŸ™‚

7 | Refrain from 2nd or 3rd helpings

This is so hard to do when the food is tasting so delicious, but it can be a real game-changer when you have a number of holiday gatherings to attend.

So, make a pact with yourself that you will only have one serving of the food you decided to enjoy.

8 | Eat slowly and make the meal last longer

This goes hand in hand with the tip above. If you take the time to enjoy and savor the plate of food you took, you won’t be as likely to want more.

And’re not going to have more!

9 | Go easy on the alcohol

Aside from the obvious implications of over-imbibing, alcohol, particularly mixed drinks, can add lots of calories and carbs to the meal. If you drink, have one and be done.

10 | Keep to a regular workout plan

Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “oh well, it’s the holidays and I’m going to blow it anyway, so why bother working out?”.

No, my friend, don’t do that! Maintain your regular workouts – you DO exercise, right?? – and you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the New Year.

It really is possible to enjoy holiday eating without gaining weight, as long as you are willing to plan ahead a little bit and be true to yourself. Remember these 10 holiday eating tips and you’ll do well.

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holiday eating tips for women over 50

18 thoughts on “10 Holiday Eating Tips: Enjoy Meals Without Gaining Weight”

  1. Yes, I needed this today! I especially appreciate the reminder about mindless snacking. Thanks for posting such clear, concise guidelines. 🌻

    1. Hi Holly, I think we all do that to an extent, with the food and snacks that tend to be sitting in front of us so often. It is always a challenge to maintain our healthy mindset!

  2. I always try to get a good workout in if I know I’m going to a party. I don’t use it as an excuse to overeat but I do feel better knowing I have a bit of a “cushion” in the bank.

    1. Absolutely, Kim, I agree that an extra push on the physical activity gives us a bit of a head start! Thanks so much for stoppin by πŸ™‚

  3. These are all so true! The one thing I would add is to make sure there are healthy options, even if it means bringing a dish or two with you! We always spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws, who see vegetable matter as condiments to be used sparingly in a meal. So my hubby and I have learned to be proactive and (over my in-laws’ protests that they don’t need any help, there’s nothing we need to bring) shoehorn in a few veggie side dishes to counteract the less healthy offerings on the table!

  4. Excellent tips Candi and there really isn’t a valid reason for gaining weight during the holiday season. I believe that if we make healthier food choices most of the time, we can indulge occasionally. We seem to think that because it is the holidays we should change our lifestyle. Keeping our exercise routine going and eating healthy in between celebrations will certainly help. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and Happy Thanksgiving to you. xx

    1. Thanks Sue…I agree that keeping our routines going with wise choices for indulgence during the holiday season can keep us on track, and still enjoy some treats. πŸ™‚

  5. These are great tips Candi – we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia (one of the only US holidays we haven’t adopted – don’t get me started on Halloween creeping in over here – grrrr) Anyway…. I thought they applied equally to Christmas eating too and I loved the idea of doing the table tour first to make more mindful choices – and to not get tempted to go back for seconds (especially dessert!)
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for sharing Leanne, I appreciate it! I’ve learned to do a quick ‘tour’ first because it helps me make better decisions on where to spend all those calories!

  6. Thanks for the tips. Holiday food and celebration foods also invoke memories of past celebrations. I recently got my upper teeth back after 16 months with none following cancer surgeries and it was (and still is!) interesting to see what foods I first wanted to try once I could bite and chew again. I also realised, that my months of having to eat in a limited way had given me more good habits of eating for health and nourishment than I had before my cancer. So, lesson for me is the eat from a range of foods but not to over-do one group!

    Happy Thanksgiving. We may not celebrate in Australia, but sending good wishes to you and yours.
    Denyse #MLSTL

    1. Thanks so much for sharing and for the good wishes, Denyse. I hope that you’re well on the road to recovery and are enjoying the healthy food choices you are now able to eat again!

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